Deco Announces His Arrival In Style

CHELSEA 4 – 0 PORTSMOUTH

With Arsenal and Liverpool both chalking up 1-0 wins yesterday and the Champions due to play Newcastle at Old Trafford later in the day, it was important for Chelsea to get off to a good start if we were to avoid giving the boys in the press something to have a go at us about this weekend. So, let’s see what they do with the 4-0 drubbing we dished out to Portsmouth in Scolari’s first game in charge at Stamford Bridge.

The conditions and atmosphere couldn’t have been better: a bright sunny day in West London, Sam Bethell may well have done a bit of community service after all, because the pitch was looking perfect and the injured Drogba could be seen building bridges with our younger supporters, apparently ‘happy to sign anything put in front of him’. Kenyon surely missed an opportunity there?

Chelsea started well, some slick passing, and fluid, crisp movement, opening Pompey up and ensuring they couldn’t get out of their own half. Lampard was the first to test David James, his rocket from distance stinging the keeper’s hands on 8 minutes. Deco, who looks to have slotted in nicely, hit the ground running and was noticeably involved in everything. Then, 12 minutes in, a sublime pass with the outside of the right foot from Ballack picked out the lively Joe Cole, who’s clinical shot beat David James into the bottom corner.

James did better blocking a shot from Anelka, who’d run onto Ballack’s through ball, although 25 minutes in, some poorer keeping allowed Deco to lob the ball up for Anelka who, this time, headed home from a yard out. The rejuvenated Anelka remained a constant threat and was unlucky not to grab a second just minutes later although stabbed his shot wide of the onrushing James.

One minor cause for concern in the first half saw Michael Ballack limp off on 38 minutes, although even that wasn’t the disaster it could’ve been, since this time round it wasn’t Avram Grant in charge of substitutions. No panic from Scolari then, who did the necessaries, bringing on Florent Malouda.

Chelsea were in complete control and certainly didn’t need any favours, although someone should’ve told Sylvain Distin, who’s handling of Joe Cole’s cross saw referee Mike Dean point to the spot. Of course there was the usual debate regarding the ref’s generosity – ball to hand, hand to ball, etc, – but the fact is if your arm’s out that far in the area, it’s a risk you’ll take. Anyway, James is sent the wrong way by Lampard, 3-0. Game over? Nope, just half-time.

Business carried on as usual at the start of the second half, with Anelka pretty much at the centre of our attacking threat, although we did see Joe Cole running at pace towards goal, only to put it wide. Portsmouth appeared unaware of the concept of marking, which saw Campbell and Distin given the run around and a few nervy moments in the area, although to be fair, they got their act together enough to wake our defenders up for a short spell. Ashley Cole though was well up to the task, with his last-ditch tackle denying Lassana Diarra. Likewise Carvalho, who’d spent more time in their area than his own, who was also more than up to it when called upon. And here’s my only grumble about the game – Carvalho shirt pulling – he’s a great defender, our best in fact, and yet he persists in taking this risk in the box. Leave it out Ricky!

Anyway, back to the positives, the formality of the second half continued with Chelsea’s movement continuing to press Pompey, who barely got a sniff of the ball, let alone Cech’s goal and just before the final whistle, a sweet strike from the majestic Deco from around 25 yards out saw our Portuguese playmaker cap an immense debut with a goal which totally summed up his performance for me – class!

Overall then, the 4-0 scoreline  totally reflected the game, with a rampant and very well organised Chelsea side dominating proceedings and clearly enjoying the football every bit as much as the home crowd. The new signings fitted in effortlessly, with the addition of Deco looking like the link Chelsea have been missing. MOTM by a country mile and if we can keep him fit we might just get some football worth watching this season.

 

Teams:

CHELSEA: Cech, Bosingwa (off 83), Carvalho, Terry, Ashley Cole, Ballack (off 38), Lampard, Mikel, Deco, Joe Cole, Anelka.

Substitutes: Hilario, Bridge, Wright-Phillips, Malouda (on 38), Di Santo, Alex, Ferreira (on 83).

PORTSMOUTH: James, Johnson, Campbell, Distin, Hreidarsson, Kaboul, Diarra (off 68), Diop, Kranjcar (off 73), Crouch, Defoe.

Substitutes: Ashdown, Utaka, Traore, Thomas(on 73), Lauren, Cranie, Mvuemba (on 68).

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Five Chelsea Boys Make Capello’s Squad

Fabio Capello insists he has picked what he describes as his “strongest squad” for the England friendly against the Czech Republic at Wembley on Wednesday.

Jermain Defoe was one of four forwards named in the squad. Defoe, who scored two against Trinidad & Tobago during England’s last outing in May, has been selected ahead of team-mate Peter Crouch. Fit again Emile Heskey is also included as is Wayne Rooney and Arsenal youngster Theo Walcott, although named in the England Under-21 squad will step up for the seniors following his selection.

Despite a couple of goals yesterday, Dean Ashton missed his chance of selection when he limped off for West Ham. Also missing out through injury are Michael Owen and Tottenham’s in-form Darren Bent. David Beckham however, with the chance to win his 103rd England cap, is included in the party, as are Chelsea boys Wayne Bridge, John Terry, Ashley Cole, Joe Cole and Frank Lampard.

After a woeful season with both Spurs and England last time out, goalkeeper Paul Robinson has earned a recall following his move to Blackburn and Manchester City’s Joe Hart retains his place after winning his first senior cap as a substitute in the game against Trinidad and Tobago.

Announcing his selection, Capello said “It is an important game because I hope to get the answers from the players that I hope to achieve. I hope to get what I expect. I have to check on their form but the experimenting is finished. I know the players very well now. When I started working with the players they were a bit scared and afraid. After a while a lot of players played better. It’s not fear about me but it was soon after not qualifying and for the players it was like an examination or test. It is not so. I think they know me, what I ask of them, about my style, the movement around the pitch – they know and it’s better now. ”

After playing the Czech Republic, England face Andorra and Croatia in their opening World Cup qualifiers in September.

 

The squad:

Goalkeepers: David James (Portsmouth), Paul Robinson (Blackburn Rovers), Joe Hart (Manchester City)

Defenders: Wayne Bridge (Chelsea), Wes Brown (Manchester United), Ashley Cole (Chelsea), Rio Ferdinand (Manchester United), Glen Johnson (Portsmouth), John Terry (Chelsea), Matthew Upson (West Ham United), Jonathan Woodgate (Tottenham Hotspur)

Midfielders: Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), Gareth Barry (Aston Villa), Michael Carrick (Manchester United), Joe Cole (Chelsea), David Bentley (Tottenham Hotspur), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), David Beckham (LA Galaxy), Stewart Downing (Middlesbrough)

Forwards: Wayne Rooney, (Manchester United), Jermain Defoe (Portsmouth), Theo Walcott (Arsenal), Emile Heskey (Wigan Athletic)

England Captaincy: Rio Ferdinand v John Terry

With England boss Fabio Capello preparing to announce the England captain ahead of the friendly against the Czech Republic, new Chelsea coach Luiz Felipe Scolari has urged the Italian to re-appoint John Terry. Scolari suggests “It would be a fantastic choice if he made John Terry captain. He is captain of Chelsea and I think he must again captain England. He helps the manager and the players by saying the right things on and off the field.”

However, although the preferred choice of former England manager Steve McClaren, JT was to find out during a team dinner before England’s friendly against France in March that the new boss was handing the armband to Rio Ferdinand on that occasion, before briefly handing it back to the Chelsea skipper for a friendly against the United States in May.

Of his short time as England captain Terry says “I’ve been awfully lucky to get the armband in the past and that’s something that will never leave me. I’m sure whoever Mr Capello announces as the captain will have the best day of his life next week, whether it be myself, Rio, Stevie G or Lamps. The main thing is that England as a team move forward and the captain helps drag them together. To have the captaincy for a short period of time meant an awful lot. I want those memories back and want to lead the team out. Of course I want the England captaincy. Maybe I do deserve another chance.”

But does he?

The job of England captain requires a role model both on and off the pitch, a model youngsters across the country can aspire to follow. They must be honourable and their motivational skills of the highest quality. When it comes to playing the game itself, there might well be better centre-backs out there but if there’s one master of the last-ditch tackle or the goal-line clearance, John Terry springs to mind. He thrives on challenge, gives his all as a captain and has an in-built ability to rally and inspire his players.

However, a captain’s leadership quality is expected on an off the pitch, taking charge of the team, calming tempers and correcting errant players. And whilst John Terry might be a popular choice in the dressing room, his off-field antics and lack of discipline have let him down a little too frequently. Be it rumours of a questionable social life, his choice of parking spot or his un-captain like reaction following Ashley Cole’s petulance at White Hart Lane last season, it’s probably not the stuff England captains are made of.

That’s not to say his competitor for the England captaincy, Rio Ferdinand, is above reproach either. Whilst both passionate, committed players, Ferdinand and Terry take losing badly, and allowing these feelings to spill over at times is something they’ve both been guilty of.  Even during a campaign where he excelled in Gary Neville’s absence, Ferdinand’s reaction to defeat at Stamford Bridge last season saw him lash out at a wall which he duly missed, kicking a female steward in the process.

Ferdinand’s also been guilty of his fair share of wayward behaviour scandals in the past, a fact that no doubt helped to cloud the FA’s opinion when he was given an eight month ban for a missed drugs test in December 2003. And his hesitation in signing a new contract with Manchester United in the wake of his ban didn’t exactly endear him to his own supporters either.

But, fair play to the man, he turned it around and certainly showed himself to be a worthy captain for his club when sharing the duties with Ryan Giggs last season. No longer the wide-boy, Rio Ferdinand has grown in both stature and popularity and even the opposition have to acknowledge the effect that’s had on his game.

And having given the England captain’s role a road test in the friendly against France in March, Ferdinand feels he is now ready to take up the position on a permanent basis. The 29 year old centre-back says “I’d love to have the job on a permanent basis, definitely. It’s a fantastic honour to be named the captain of your country. If there’s a God up there I hope he can make me last another two World Cups, if not three – but maybe that’s being greedy.”

If we’re looking at attitude then, Ferdinand’s transformation would probably see him come out as a firm favourite with Capello. And whilst he doesn’t come across quite as loud or commanding as JT on the pitch, his composed attention to his own duties and sometimes quieter, although just as controlled style of leadership might also please the Italian. Not that Ferdinand can’t find his voice when he needs it of course, although unlike the increasingly talkative John Terry, the Manchester United captain does seem to save his words for the pitch.

So, with just days to go before Fabio Capello announces the new, permanent England captain, will the differences between the two players last season sway his decision?

Didier Drogba ‘As Eager As Ever’ To Leave Chelsea?

 

Didier Drogba may well have been a bit irritated by the lack of notice paid to him all but hanging a ‘for sale’ sign round his neck when talking to the press this summer, however, according to recent reports, the Ivorian has still not given up hope of someone coming in for him before the transfer window closes. Although there appear to be a lack of direct quotes from the player himself, he’s apparently ‘as eager as ever to get out’ of Stamford Bridge and has allegedly informed his new boss of his plans to leave.

As luck would have it – for the press at least – Chelsea’s chief executive, Peter Kenyon did suggest last week that the club didn’t plan to extend Drogba’s current contract which has two years remaining. Therefore, with the Chelsea striker in a position to buy it out at the end of this season, I guess it gives the media a little more scope for a story. However, what Kenyon also made clear at the time was that Chelsea “do not sell our best players”. Not that the rags would let trivial details like that put them off though.

Scolari is reported to be keen to keep hold of the wantaway striker, who is currently out of action with a persistent knee problem although in order to concentrate fully on his job as the new Chelsea manager, has left the matter in the hands of the Chelsea board – which presumably should see the Ivorian out of the club in the next few days then!

However, when questioned directly on Drogba, Scolari stated ‘Sometimes it is not the fault of the player. Sometimes agents put things in the news. But Didier, when I arrived and until now, has been training very well twice a day. He is in the last day for his treatment. Three or four days ago he started a new phase for recuperation. Next week, he will start with me on the pitch. We are going slowly because we need Drogba for one year, not one or two games. Last season he played some games with problems and I don’t want him to play a few games and stay out of the team for six months.”

So, with not long left for the offers to come flooding in, will Drogba still be a Chelsea player at the end of the transfer window?